Character Thoughts – Justin Harper

Justin Harper VintageJustin Harper is best friends with Timothy Hawkins and appears in Wolf in the Shadow.

Justin and Timothy attended school together and were known for getting into mischief. They spent more time harassing the Sisters than they did studying. After school, they would play games in the streets of Freywater, and they spent many an evening at each other’s home.

As late teens, Justin and Timothy were both granted weapons of the gods. While Timothy received the Spear of Lugh, Justin received the Seal of Solomon. Unfortunately, the Seal required practice to master, something Justin had no desire to do. Still, carrying the weapon allowed him to become a Shadow Walker, and he threw himself into it with all his heart. He came to love the chase and the slaughter, and he became one of the best the Shadow Walkers had at disposing of dangerous creatures. He was often paired with Timothy, who was the one person who could curb Justin’s more reckless behavior.

Justin is in his early twenties in Wolf in the Shadow. At this time, Justin’s favorite pastime is downing Nutty Fluffies and bedding as many women as possible. To him, these women are nothing more than playthings, and the idea that they are people with emotions and dreams escapes him. In his own mind, what he’s doing can’t possibly hurt anyone, and he’s found himself on the business end of numerous pistols and swords. Only Timothy’s connection with the Enforcers keeps Justin out of trouble.

In his more serious moments, though these are rare, Justin considers his life in the far future. While he can’t picture himself with a wife and children, he does see himself in a position of authority, something that gets a lot of attention and admiration. By his own admission, he has no idea what this position might be. He’s actually extremely insecure and uses his flamboyant persona to validate his existence to himself. He constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and he would most likely be able to conquer these if he would give them voice instead of hiding them.

Justin loves to eat out at restaurants, and his favorite place in Freywater is a diner near the University. They serve foods fried in oil, and Justin is particularly fond of fried root vegetables. He covers them in a variety of sauces and uses them as a ‘pick me up’ after too many Nutty Fluffies or a night spent with too much company. He also enjoys going to the theater, though he avoids the burlesque shows because he feels they are indecent.

When he’s alone, he enjoys reading, and the ha’coin books that have become the rage in the Xaggarene Empire are his favorites. Many of these deal with murder and depravity, and Justin finds satisfaction in reading about these topics. He doesn’t care much for actual book-learning, though, so many of the topics Timothy mentions are lost on him.

Justin is one of those characters who is both loveable and despicable. His willingness to protect the weak is a laudable trait, but his selfishness is loathsome. There are redeeming qualities to him, but they’re hard to see for those who aren’t looking. He can be fun to be around, but no one should ever count on him. He’s loyal to those who serve his purposes, but he will turn away if he thinks he has the slightest reason. His love of the chase is carefully balanced by the need of the Shadow Walkers, but I wonder just what it would take to shift him from state-sanctioned Shadow Walker to cold-blooded killer. I don’t think it would take too much, and it’s an idea I may explore at some point. I haven’t decided. I have to admit, though, that, while Justin is one of my favorites to write, I don’t particularly like him. He’s just too loud and obnoxious to be someone I would enjoy being around.

What are your thoughts on Justin Harper? Is he someone you would call a friend? Do you agree with his actions in Wolf in the Shadow?

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

 

Muhulda Urswyk – The Truth Behind the Bile

Muhulda Urswyk Vintage

The café was a small place off the main thoroughfare. The ladies, those who had no need to work at places like the Steam Whisper, sat at round tables, sipped tea, and ate delicate little cookies. Long dresses with lots of frills and elaborate hair styles hit my eyes no matter which way I turned. I loved the café, but the clientele wasn’t my favorite group of people. They were too much like my haughty sister and her ‘husband in need of a secretary’.

I settled into a chair amid sneers of disgust. I was conscious of being different, of wearing trousers and boots instead of a frilly gown, but I was willing to bet I was more educated than any of them.

“Oh, my gods. Do you see her clothes?”

“What’s someone like that doing in here? Aren’t there taverns for her kind?”

The whispers, if they could be called that, cut into my already low self-esteem. I considered leaving, but I wasn’t willing to give the bitches the satisfaction. I took out my parchment pad and pen and shut the rest of the patrons from my mind, but it was no use. I was more concerned about Elbert and the demon than I was about writing. Elbert and the demon. That was it. My pen flew across the page as I detailed all that I had seen.

The door opened, and cold air blasted through the café. The women complained until they saw who stood in the doorway, then their complaints crescendoed to a roar. The man in the doorway didn’t flinch. His eyes raked over the place; the sneer on his face reflected that of the women. With two steps, he was at my side. He grabbed my arm and tightened his grip when I tried to pull away. He dragged me from the café with no regard for my comfort. My parchment pad was left on the table.

“Let go of me.”

He didn’t answer.

I struggled, but he was much stronger than me.

“Muhulda, what is going on here?”

I rolled my eyes and tried again to pull my arm from Elbert’s grasp. He didn’t pause.

“Let go of my sister right now, or I’ll call the Enforcers.”

Elbert stopped and turned around. He blinked a couple of times then realized we were twins. “Stay out of it,” he growled.

Matilda’s boots banged against the cobbles in a staccato beat that echoed my heartbeat. “I will not.”

Elbert sighed and stopped, but he didn’t let me go. Matilda reached us in seconds and raised her arm to slap him.

“I wouldn’t recommend that action.” Elbert’s voice was quiet but cold, and I quit struggling in surprise.

Matilda, too, sensed the danger and backed away. “What do you want with her?”

“We have to talk.” Elbert didn’t say more.

Matilda turned to me, her eyes wide. “What have you gotten yourself into now? Just wait until I tell Mother.” She turned back to Elbert, her hands on her hips and her fur wrap blowing in the wind. “Well?”

“Well, what?” Elbert snarled.

“What has she done?” Matilda approached this the same way she approached everything—with the idea that she could just buy or bully her way out of it.

Elbert looked back and me with questions in his eyes. I just rolled mine. “Tell her or don’t. I don’t care.” He stared at me for another minute then let go of my arm. “Don’t go anywhere,” he said to me. “You’re in danger.” Then he turned back to my sister. “This doesn’t concern you. Period.”

Matilda huffed and tossed a stray end of her wrap back over her shoulder. “Well, I never…” She glanced over at me. “Do I need to call the Enforcers?”

I shook my head and willed her to shut up and go away. No one was more surprised than I was when she did.

“Well, I’ll come by and see you in a bit, Mully.” She stomped away.

I whirled on Elbert. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? I’m not your wife, your sister, or your bitch, and if you ever touch me again, I’ll kill you.”

He stood there with his arms crossed and snow falling on his head. Even in the cold, his arms were bare. “Those demons are after you for a reason. What is it?”

“I don’t know! What part of that don’t you understand?”

Elbert shivered once and looked around the crowded street. “Is there somewhere we can get something to eat around here. It’s freezing.”

I rolled my eyes again. “Come on. We can’t go back to the café, not after the way you barreled into the place, but I know another place.”

 

Freebie and Discount

It’s summer and a great time for reading by the pool. In honor of this time of year, I’m offering a couple of deals on my books.

The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: A Walker is Born is free through the end of July. It’s a great book for fantasy lovers ages 9-12.

3D Book no shadowEthan is just like everyone else in Land’s End. He helps his mother in her bakery, he attends school at the Arcana Maximus, and he enjoys hanging out with his friends.

But Ethan has a secret, one others want to know. When Ethan is grabbed in the town square, he runs. He races off to see if his secret is safe, but it isn’t enough. He’s pursued wherever he goes. Now, his parents are angry, and his teachers are on his case. All he wants to do is turn the secret over to someone else.

Ethan is pulled into a world he never knew existed, one that shatters his peaceful life. He now must decide whether to keep his life the way it’s always been or to embrace the possibility that has been offered to him. For the first time in his life, Ethan has to make a choice that only he can make, and he doesn’t know what to do.

And for the adults, I have a discount going on Aradia’s Secret through the end of August. Join Gwennyth Grimsbane as she searches for a way to save her people.

Aradia's Secret Cover with BookAs a child, Gwennyth dreamed of taking a ship across the void and seeing the lands of Grevared. As an adult, she’s content to stay at home and spend her days researching magic. But all this ends when her mother Ravyn transposes forms at nearly 900 years old. Though she has been trained her entire life, Gwennyth is sure she isn’t up to the task of leading her people, and when their magic begins to fail, Gwennyth knows she can’t do it.

But there isn’t anyone else. Her siblings have moved on from Crowrest, and Gwennyth is all that is left. With only her best friend Vonner in tow, Gwennyth sets out into the world of Grevared in search of the goddess Aradia. Her only clue to the goddess’s whereabouts is ‘look not in the places of the gods’. But finding the goddess isn’t her only task. Gwennyth must also find herself.

For links to my other books and fun facts about the world of Grevared, check out my website at https://www.lissadobbs.com.

Best wishes and happy reading.

 

Muhulda Urswyk – The Truth Behind the Bile

Muhulda Urswyk Vintage

I dressed and grabbed my parchment pad and cloak. There was a small park just a few blocks from my flat, and I hoped that being outside, even in the cold, would spark my writer’s instincts. Even better if I could see something that would make a story. A good one.

A steam carriage creaked by just as I was leaving. Steam belched from a stack over the engine, and a solitary man sat hunched and shivering on the driver’s seat. The curtains to the carriage were closed, and I idly wondered which of the city’s many hoity-toits was riding around town. Then I let the though pass as the bells from the Arcana Maximus rang the end of morning services. People would be filling the streets, all wrapped in their winter coats and scarves. Some would head straight home for dinner, while others would take time to stroll the parks and enjoy the crisp scent of fresh-fallen snow.

Walking to the park released some of my anger, and, by the time I got there, several others were strolling by the partially frozen creek. I found an empty bench and settled in to watch my fellow citizens.

An older couple wandered by. She wore a long dress with a flaring skirt and plenty of lace on the trim. The navy blue contrasted with her pale skin and made her look old and doughy. He, on the other hand, was a dapper older man in a dark suit and top hat. Watching him walk, I was pretty sure the cane he carried was more for effect than necessity. I smiled. The older citizens of Sangeron, the ones who held onto the ideas of class and culture, never ceased to amuse me. It was the same mindset my parents and sister had, and I often wondered if they realized just how pointless it really was.

From the other direction came a guy, younger than me by a few years. Hair the same deep blue as my own stuck up in all directions. A scar ran down his cheek, still pink and shining, and he wore a long-barreled pistol at his side. Bright eyes the brilliant yellow, so common in the demon races, shone with an eerie light, and I wondered just what he was doing there.

“It’d be a good source for an article.” I muttered the words under my breath and bent to my parchment to make notes.

A shadow fell over me, and I looked up to see the demon. He scowled, an expression that marred the fine lines of his face. From up close, he resembled those I’d see the night before, just younger. It wasn’t so much his facial features as it was the way he carried himself, the slightly ‘off’ look in his eyes.

“What do you want?”

He scowled again. “What’s say you let me show you the town?”

I rolled my eyes and stood, forcing him to back up. “What’s up with all the invites lately? You guys understand that I live here, right? I’ve seen the town.”

He growled, a low, deep-throated sound that vibrated in my blood. Fear inched its way up my spine and oozed into my nerves. I pulled my cloak around me as if I was cold and used the cover to pull the knife from my belt. Inwardly, I sighed. This sure felt like a repeat of the night before.

“Don’t be like that,” he said. “Just let me show you the town.” The more he spoke, the more I could tell that Lethatu wasn’t his first language. He spoke like he was trying to remember the words, like his tongue didn’t want to make the sounds.

I shifted so I could move away from the guy and sighed again. Now, I’m tall, but he towered over me, well over six feet, and I was tired of craning my neck to look up at him. “Look. I had two guys use the same line on me last night. I wasn’t interested then, and I’m not interested now. So, you guys just leave me alone and let me get on with my life.”

I walked away with a quickness. The guy’s boots crunching in the snow followed me. I cursed and turned, ready to fight for my life, but someone else stepped between him and me. I cursed again when I realized it was Elbert. Why the hell was the Shadow Walker following me? How’d he known I would be here?

“You really don’t wanna do that.” His voice had a slow drawl to it, one I’d never heard before, and I wondered if he came from Corleon or Moirena, somewhere not here.

The demon thing mumbled a little, his words mangled by the tongues in his mouth, and Elbert laughed.

“Tough shit. Walk away, and you live. Stick around, and you die. It’s that simple.”

The demon muttered something else and lunged for Elbert. I’m ashamed to say that a girly scream escaped my lips, but I quickly swallowed it. I backed away and let Elbert deal with the creature. I had other things to do, after all, and I had no desire to get mixed up with the Shadow Walkers, no matter how tight their bums were or how gracefully they moved. I could just imagine Matilda’s high-pitched, high-falutin voice telling me how much Shadow Walkers were beneath us with their crass ways and base social functions. I mean, really, they fought monsters, of all things. How gauche.

Elbert looked to be holding his own, so I headed out of the park. I’d really wanted to spend some time writing, but the demon thing with a mouth full of tentacles prevented that. So, I headed toward a nearby café instead. Maybe there I could focus on what I wanted to do without interruption.

 

Book Cover…Grrrrr.

K'duktil and Cavern CoverOne of the things I like best about self-publishing is being able to take control of the process myself. For me, it’s fun to play around with new ideas and try to learn new skills. The operative word here is ‘try’. Damn me for wanting to learn stuff.

While the other covers took me some time and effort to work out, I’ve had a difficult time getting a cover made for Jerrung and the Kwaad Cavern, a children’s book that will be out when I can figure out its wrapping. Nothing I do seems to work and capture the story, and I think I’ve made thirty or forty of them.

That being the case, I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities, the best I can come up with for this particular story. I’ve added the two possibilities and the blurb. I’d appreciate any thoughts on the matter, positive or negative.

Yellow Ogre.jpgAs always, best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://lissadobbs.com

Blurb:

At almost eight years old, Jerrung is sure he’s old enough to be a warrior, to have a real sword. His parents disagree. They think he’s just a child.

But when Jerrung’s sister is kidnapped by the Kwaad, Jerrung knows his time has come. Jerrung isn’t going to wait for the rest of the village to make their plans. He and his friends head into the mountains to rescue the prisoners.

Can the dwarves find their way through the tunnels and back out before the Kwaad find them?

 

Writing Update

IMG_20160428_203226Things have been a little hectic lately. I started a new job with a weird schedule, so I haven’t kept up with things the way I should. I have been writing some, though, both stories in Grevared and some horror stuff.

I have two short stories completed and am doing revisions. One is the Muhulda Urswyk story that posts here every Wednesday, and the other is a horror tale.

I’ve been making progress on both the YA WIP and on ‘the story that never ends’. I finally like where the trilogy is going. I just hope I can keep it going in this direction. I’ll tell you, these guys LOVE to take off on their own.

I have a children’s story that’s in its editing phase. I’m almost through with what I hope will be the last of the edits. Now, I just have to decide on a cover for it. This story takes place in the Kingdom of Emerell, just to the west of Moirena. The village of Everstone is attacked by the Kwaad, and Jerrung’s sister is taken. Not willing to wait for the adults to go after them, Jerrung and his friends set off under the mountain. Finally, he gets to have a real adventure.

I’m hoping that I’ll settle into my new schedule and get back to being productive.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

Muhulda Urswyk – The Truth Behind the Bile

Muhulda Urswyk Vintage

I turned and made my way back down the alley and onto the next street. I hadn’t realized just how tense I had been until I felt my shoulders relax in the warm glow of the gas lamps. I was only a few blocks from home, and the proximity gave me a sense of safety, real or not.

I was just turning my key in the lock of my flat when I heard boots thudding on the cobbles. I turned, ready to attack if need be, then sighed when I realized it was the Shadow Walker. “Look,” I said when he got close enough to hear me. “I’m tired, and I’m cold, and it’s been one bitch of an evening. Can whatever you have to say wait until the light shines?”

He nodded and gave me a small smile. “Yeah, but I need to know where to find you. There’s something not right about those guys, and I need to figure out what it is.”

“You mean, besides tentacles shooting from their mouths?” I sighed again and nodded. “Fine. Where will you be mid-morning? I’ll come to you.”

“I’ll be at the Shadow Walker guild hall,” he replied. “My name’s Elbert. Elbert Simmons.”

“All right, Elbert Simmons. I’ll come in the morning. Now, good night.” And, with that, I left him standing on the doorstep as the snow began to fall in earnest.

 

*****

 

I awoke the next morning to a light covering of snow over the city. I had to admit that Sangeron covered in snow was a beautiful sight, even this part of town, which wasn’t the poshest. Still, though, it was enough to make me regret telling Elbert Simmons that I would meet with him, so I decided that whatever it was he wanted could wait and curled up with a parchment pad and a cup of hot cocoa instead.

I was halfway through writing an article I wanted to submit to the city’s paper when a knock at my door interrupted my thoughts.

“Dammit.”

I placed the pad on the small table beside my chair and shuffled to the door. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about the intrusion and had a good feeling I knew who was going to be standing on the other side of the door. I had no desire to see the Shadow Walker, no desire to get involved in whatever it was that was going on.

I opened the door and cursed again. I was wrong. It wasn’t Elbert standing on my doorstep. It was worse. Far worse.

“It’s freezing out here. Let me in.”

I sighed and stepped back from the door. The woman brushed by me without so much as a glance, her fur scarf slapping me in the face as she passed.

“Shut the door. I don’t want anyone to see me here.”

I sighed again and closed the door. By this time the woman was in my parlor in my chair and reading the article I’d been working on. I marveled at how quickly she could intrude.

“Are you seriously still working on this drivel? Come on, Mully, you’re never going to make is as a writer. Just come work with me and Rupert and do something more appropriate for our station.” She looked around the room at the worn furniture and the faded wallpaper. “I mean, really…” She waved her hand at the parlor. “This is so beneath you.”

I reached around her and grabbed my cup, one of the few delicate pieces I owned. “I know, Matilda. You tell me this at least once a week.”

My sister, twin, to make things even worse, rolled her eyes at me and plopped herself into my favorite chair. She slung her scarf over her shoulder in that annoyingly pompous way she had and crossed her legs. She dangled a delicate heel and examined long, polished fingernails. I glanced at my own gnawed ones for a moment, then crossed my arms and stood tapping my foot.

“What do you want, Matilda? Why are you here?”

Matilda looked up at me with the same magenta eyes I saw in the mirror every morning. “All right. Look. Rupert has an opening for a secretary. It’s not a glamourous job, but it’s better than the one you’re working now. I mean, come on, having my twin sister work at the Steam Whisper is embarrassing.” She sniffed and patted her hair. “The job won’t be hard. All you’ll do is check in the patients and take their money. Rupert and I take care of the biotics.”

Anger seethed in my gut, and I nearly choked myself trying to swallow it. Why in the hell Matilda had followed me all the way to Sangeron, I’d never know. All I’d wanted was a little peace from the expectations of my hoity-toity family and a chance to pursue my own dreams.
“What’s it to you?”

Matilda rose, every movement designed to keep my attention on her. “It’s simple. We look alike.” She took a step toward me, and it was all I could do not to punch her in the face. “Same hair, same eyes. I get tired of being mistaken for a serving wench in a tavern.”

I took a step back and clenched my fists. “Then dye your hair or something.”

Matilda laughed, a sound that had never failed to get on my nerves. “Why don’t you dye yours?”

“Because I’m not the one with the issue. You are.” I stomped toward the front door without looking to see if Matilda followed me. “Now, I’ve got things to do. You and Rupert can live your own lives and leave me alone to do the same.” I opened the door and shivered in a blast of cold air. “Go.”

Matilda rolled her eyes again and looked at me like I was a ghighet in her trash, then she sauntered out into the snow without looking back. I slammed the door behind her and let off a string of curses that I was sure left a visible cloud in my flat, then I returned to my parlor and tried to get back to my article.

No luck. A low boil of anger and hatred burned within me. My sister had been the bain of my existence since the day we were born. Always wanting to please, always wanting to raise her station, she’d pushed and prodded me to the point that my job at the Steam Whisper was far preferable to anything Matilda had to offer.

 

Research Willies

library-419254_1920I have a fascination with Victorian England, I’ll admit. I suppose it comes from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol being one of my favorite books and movies, and I use some of that ambiance in my writing; it’s an essential part of the world, though it isn’t true to history. Since the world itself is a hodge-podge that exists after the rest of creation is destroyed, I take a good bit of liberty with my clothing, setting, magic, and technology. That being said, I still research to get ideas.

My most recent research acquisition is The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders. I have to say that it’s a fascinating read. It examines the Victorian and pre-Victorian attitude toward murder and the value of these crimes as entertainment. Even among the wealthy, taking a tour of murder scenes was an acceptable pastime. She talks about the penny bloods/penny dreadfuls and the creation of the broadsides as well as giving information on the murders themselves. I’ve gotten a lot of good information from this work, and I’m only about halfway through it. In fact, I’m actually writing fewer hours a day to allow more time to read it.

I know in some of the online writers’ groups we often comment on what would happen if our browser history was targeted by the government. I’ve often wondered the same thing when it comes to my bookshelf. Reading and researching murder doesn’t bother me, but there are some of my characters with attributes and interests that require delving into subjects I have no interest in and that make me want to take a shower once I have the information. If only brain bleach was something you could buy at the store…

Anyone else ever have that issue? Are there things you have to research that make you wonder about yourself and your characters?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com